The Ultimate Guide:
19 Ways to a More Healthy Kitchen
Do you want a healthy kitchen? The kitchen is traditionally the room in a home where everyone gathers. We know that the food we bring into a kitchen contributes to a kitchen being healthy. However, there are also many other components which go into having a healthy kitchen.
Your kitchen should offer you a place where everyone can gather comfortably without the threat of being exposed to toxic chemicals. You should make sure the environment in your kitchen is as healthy as possible.
Creating a healthy, eco-friendly kitchen is possible by making some changes. Don't worry. You don’t have to change everything at once. It's best to just begin and continue to build upon the changes that you make.
Here are 19 different recommendations (in no particular order) to make your kitchen a healthier, more eco-friendly environment.
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Limit Your Use of Plastic
Plastic is seemingly everywhere in the kitchen, coming in all shapes and sizes.
Consider all of the ways you use plastic each day - from storing leftover food in plastic containers, to drinking from plastic water bottles. We use plastic bags to carry food. We eat and drink with plastic silverware, plastic drinking straws and plastic utensils. We use plastic saran-wrap to cover food and more.
Although we have certainly benefited from the plastics industry – particularly in the form of convenience – we are also the first generation to have been subjected to an inundation of dangerous chemicals as a result. Plastics can contain literally thousands of possible additives/chemicals that affect the hardness, softness and texture of products.
You can easily start to limit plastic by not drinking out of plastic water bottles. Plastic water bottles are both harmful to you and the environment. It's best to opt for stainless steel or glass lined water bottles instead.
Another easy way to reduce plastic in the kitchen is to eliminate the use of plastic cooking utensils. Purchase wooden, or bamboo cooking utensils instead.
Here are some items which can help you reduce the amount of plastic in your kitchen:
Ditch Plastic Storage Containers
Storing food in plastic containers might be convenient, but it can also be costly to your health.
If a plastic is subjected to stress, as in heat or UV light (maybe using it in the microwave or dishwasher), additives can leach out. Many leaching chemicals can negatively impact your hormones.
For that reason, it's best to never microwave food while in a plastic container. You also should not wash plastic storage containers in the dishwasher. Chemical reactions can occur and migrate into food when plastic is heated or damaged, making them easier for you to ingest.
It's best to ditch plastic food storage containers! Purchase glass or ceramic storage containers instead.
Here are some items which can help you reduce the amount of plastic storage containers you use:
Clean Your Kitchen
You need to keep your kitchen clean, but you don’t need to use commercial cleaning products which have ingredients that can be harmful to your health.
It has been said that using household cleaning products can be as bad as smoking a pack of cigarettes a day. The number of chemicals in cleaning products is astounding!
In terms of household cleaners, there is no safety standard for either the ingredients or final products.
It is better to purchase less toxic cleaners or make your own instead of purchasing chemical-filled commercial cleaners.
You can find less toxic cleaners by searching on the Environmental Working Group’s website. Their database rates the toxicity levels of over 2,000 cleaners. It is best to only purchase cleaners which have an ‘A’ or ‘B’ rating.
When it comes to washing dishes, it is more energy efficient and water efficient to use a dishwasher than to wash dishes by hand. However, be sure to only run your dishwasher when it has a full load and use a non-toxic detergent.
Clean Your Oven Without Harming Yourself
Use Safe Dish Soaps and Detergent
Declutter and Organize the Pantry
Decluttering your home provides numerous benefits. One area in which you should declutter is in your kitchen pantry.
Keeping your pantry decluttered and organized will help to save you time and headaches in the long run. Who wants to spend time searching for a box of pasta, then buying a new box when it can't be found, only to find it the next day buried under all of the chips bags.
Be sure to throw away any items that are past their expiration date. You can't have a healthy kitchen when you're serving expired food!
If items do not belong in the pantry, put them back in their proper place.
If you have food that you don't like, or never imagine eating, donate it to a local food bank.
Consolidate items to reduce how many boxes and bags are in your pantry. Do you have an opened box of pasta which can be added to a new box?
Organize and arrange the items that go together such as all of the grocery bags, spices, can goods, pasta boxes, etc.
By doing some of these simple recommendations, you will have a pantry that is decluttered and functional, saving you time and headaches.
Use Non-Toxic Cookware
There’s no getting around it – whether you cook or go out to a restaurant, we all eat!
Therefore, it is very likely that you have been exposed to toxic chemicals from your cookware – or the cookware used in commercial kitchens.
Certain types of cookware are likely to discharge toxic fumes, or chemicals into your food. Toxins from non-stick cookware, such as Teflon, can release toxic fumes when they are overheated or left on the stove for too long.
Toxins from non-stick cookware are labeled as carcinogenic and are especially harmful because they bioaccumulate and build up in your body over time.
It is best to remove and replace non-stick Teflon cookware with safer alternatives – such as high-quality stainless steel, cast iron or ceramic.
Here is some cookware which is less toxic than non-stick cookware:
Use a Water Filter to Reduce Contaminants
The water coming out of your kitchen sink might not only include water. It can include many contaminants such as pesticides, parasites, bacteria, chemicals and pharmaceuticals.
In addition to the contaminants mentioned above, it’s also estimated that 63 million Americans have been exposed to lead in their tap water over the last decade alone.
Due to all of the contaminants found in tap water, it's best to use a water filter.
There are many options when it comes to water filters. You can add a filter under your kitchen sink, on your countertop, as a whole house filter, as a stand alone machine, or to a water pitcher.
Here are some water filter options:
Many items in the kitchen can be and should be recycled after they have been used.
Recycling provides many benefits to the environment. According to the EPA, recycling:
- Reduces the amount of waste sent to landfills and incinerators
- Conserves natural resources such as timber, water and minerals
- Prevents pollution by reducing the need to collect new raw materials
- Saves energy
Whether you have a curbside recycling service, or you take your recyclables to a central location, it's good to get into the habit of recycling.
Check to see what your recycling company will take.
Set a recycling system in place at home. You could place bins under your counter in your pantry to collect the recyclable items.
Add an Aerator or Low Flow Sink to Save Water
You can save money and conserve water by installing a low flow sink or adding an aerator to one of the busiest sinks in your home - your kitchen sink.
"According to the Environmental Protection Agency, adding an aerator to each faucet can save the average family about 700 gallons of water per year. That roughly translates to a savings of $48 each month."
Aerators only cost a few dollars and are easy to install. They simply screw onto the tip of a faucet. Aerators mix air into the water leaving the water to flow as tiny droplets instead of a stream.
If you are in the market for a new faucet, you can install a low-flow faucet to help save water. Low flow faucets can reduce water usage by 30% - 50%.
Is Your Furniture Leeching Chemicals?
In addition to other furniture items in your home, your kitchen table and counters may contain flame retardants, formaldehyde, toxic adhesives and be painted with high VOC paint.
Data sheets associated with chlorinated flame retardants have been labeled as carcinogenic. These chemicals have been linked to measurable health impacts.
In addition to flame retardant chemicals, furniture can also be treated with formaldehyde, a suspected carcinogen. Formaldehyde can off-gas for years. It can be found in plywood, pressed wood, particle board and medium density fiberboard.
When shopping for furniture, be sure to look for pieces made of either whole wood, glass, metal, chrome, wool, wicker, organic, or “green” building material so you can avoid exposure to flame retardants.
Smart Appliances Emitting Harmful EMFs
It's hard to believe, but the kitchen can be full of toxic electrical frequencies called EMFs. EMFs are toxic electrical frequencies that are emitted from electrical devices and our phones. These frequencies can cause damage to our DNA by disrupting electrical communication in our body.
New 'smart' appliances might seem like a nice concept, but they are increasing the amount of EMFs in your home.
In order to have a healthy kitchen, it is best to stay away from smart appliances that are wifi-enabled such as wifi-enabled crock pots, connected kitchen scales and smart can scanners.
Toxic Flooring Harboring Nastiness
If you are shopping for new kitchen flooring, be sure to do your research.
New flooring, such as vinyl, can contain numerous chemicals which can off-gas for a long period of time.
Fortunately, there are better, less toxic flooring options such as ceramic, marmoleum and bamboo.
If you want rugs in your kitchen, be sure to look for ones which do not have toxic underlay pads, or aren’t chemically treated.
Use Zero-VOC Paint
It’s always nice to spruce up a kitchen by changing the wall color. However, it's best to stay away from wallpaper due to its chemicals, adhesives and mold possibility.
If you want to turn your kitchen into a bright new color, be sure to choose Low or Zero-VOC paint.
You can even find paint which ultimately helps improve air quality by absorbing and neutralizing the amount of chemicals and pollutants in a room.
Energy Efficient Appliances
If you are in the market for a new kitchen appliance, make sure to choose one with the ENERGY STAR label.
Take refrigerators for example, improvements in compressors and insulation use much less energy than older models. The new refrigerator will allow you to save money and energy while doing something good for the environment.
When shopping for an energy efficient appliance, be sure to check to see if there are any rebates being offered for upgrading. Also, be sure to recycle your old appliance.
Grow Herbs In Your Kitchen
Growing herbs is something easy you can do to make your kitchen and yourself a little healthier. You can grow your own herbs in pots on your kitchen countertop.
When you grow herbs in your kitchen, you can grow them year around.
Most herbs enjoy sunlight, so setting them near your window is ideal.
You can harvest your herbs regularly by cutting them to encourage new growth.
Use Less Paper Towels
Be eliminating the amount of paper towels in your kitchen, you can make your kitchen more eco-friendly.
Many trees are used to create paper towels. "Every day, over 3,000 tons of paper towel waste is produced in the U.S. alone. To make one ton of paper towels, 17 trees are cut down and 20,000 gallons of water are consumed."
In addition, decomposing paper towels produce methane gas.
Instead of using and throwing away paper towel upon paper towel to clean up spills, you can use kitchen towels or microfiber clothes for easy clean up.
Buy Products that are Unbleached
Many paper products that we bring into our kitchen such as parchment paper, waxed paper, and coffee filters are bleached with chlorine gas or chlorine derivatives. Those chemicals are known to create dioxins during manufacturing.
Dioxins can impair the systems in your body. You shouldn't use bleached paper products near your food.
When shopping for new paper products, be sure to look for paper products which are unbleached. You can also look for products which are listed on their label as being “chlorine-free” or “dioxin-free”.
Switch to Energy Efficient Light Bulbs
Switching the light bulbs in your kitchen to LED light bulbs is something easy you can do which will save energy and money over time.
LED bulbs consume 80 percent less energy and last about 25 times longer than incandescent bulbs.
In addition, LED light bulbs do not contain mercury.
By implementing these healthy kitchen tips, you will go a long way in regards to having an overall more healthy home.
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